The former world-class athlete, now Brand Manager FILA Performance, talks about his own evocative relationship with running

Understanding the direction of a brand is always a complex work of decryption, except in the case of FILA and its equally novel-historical trajectory within the running universe. Passion is a manifest characteristic that helps dissolve any doubt or uncertainty, allowing a company to posit each and every subject onto a pathway of conscious and virtuous design. As in the case of Christoph Lohse, former top runner and now Brand Manager FILA Performance. “In the first German national championship I participated in, I was wearing FILA shoes. That was in 1997, so my connection with this brand is absolute, it goes back to the roots of my passion for running…” Lohse tells the tale of a life born and established as a function of running. A multiple national champion, Lohse defines running as an essential part of his existence, a family passion embraced at an early age and, later, translated both into stellar times, such as the 3:37,60 and 7:53,60 PBs on 1500 and 3000 meters, and a managerial career devoted entirely to the rebirth and progression of an iconic brand such as FILA.

“Running is the reason for everything, it has determined my career and my personal path, and still marks my daily life. I have always been fascinated by the evolution of this culture: in the 1970s, my parents were runners, and they were like outlaws; in the 1990s, running was pure competition; now more and more people call themselves runners… Running has become a form of personal expression,” Lohse continues, demonstrating a keen sensibility and reasoning about the new of running shoes that was unpredictable until recently. “In the past, shoes were almost an accessory, now they are a crucial element for everyone: professionals and amateurs. With FILA, we pursue the democratization of running. I am proud that certain technologies are available to everyone.”

Christoph Lohse, former top runner and now Brand Manager FILA Performance.

And the democratization of running inevitably comes through the knowledge and intentions of the key players involved. It is no coincidence, says Lohse, that the team tasked with breathing new life into the FILA running department includes numerous former athletes. It is no coincidence that a monumental narrative intertwined with legendary athletes rises again from the true epicenters of running culture 2.0, the urban communities, and a distinctive stylistic research. “With FILA we are in the middle of a journey. We are looking for the right balance between functionality, style, and brand DNA. It is impossible to make the right decisions without having your fingers on the pulse of contemporary running culture. And you also need to keep the iconic designs and colors of our heritage in mind. I was fortunate enough to experience running as a professional athlete; Now I have to continually stay up-to-date on the changes and additions to this universe, but that’s not a problem. Passion makes you love what you do. When I’m drinking my coffee on a Sunday afternoon, all I’m thinking about is FILA and running….”

And we’ve collected some of those thoughts, diving deeper into the specifics of the relationship between Lohse and FILA, its present and future ramifications, as well as the new direction of a brand destined to remain a fundamental part of running culture.

FILA’s relationship with running began in the early 1990s and involved some iconic athletes, such as Kenyan marathon runners Moses Tanui and Margaret Okayo. How important is this kind of legacy to the brand’s contemporary vision?

Our partnerships with iconic athletes like Moses Tanui and Margaret Okayo are foundational to FILA’s evolving vision. This rich heritage is a constant reminder of the brand’s commitment to blending innovation with tradition. It fuels our passion for developing cutting-edge products that resonate with the ongoing transformations in running, ensuring that our legacy and enduring pursuit for excellence lives on in every stride taken by modern athletes.

There’s a deep connection to the past in your products. The new FILA ASTATINE, for example, is a tribute to a major innovation of the brand, the carbon plate. What role has technological progress played in FILA’s history and what role does it continue to play?

Since FILA took its first steps as a performance brand in 1972 revolutionizing the fabrics in the product for Tennis athletes and mountain climbing, innovation was always in the forefront. For FILA, the legacy of technological progress, epitomized by innovations like the carbon plate in our ASTATINE, is a testament to our relentless pursuit of excellence. We continue to leverage technology to revolutionize sports apparel and equipment, pushing boundaries to enhance athletic performance. Our commitment to pioneering advancements solidifies our place in sports history and paves the way for future breakthroughs, ensuring athletes experience unprecedented comfort and capability.

In the SS23 collection you introduce a new generation of running shoes. What are the characteristics that define them? And, according to FILA, what are the characteristics that define the new generation of global runners?

For the SS23 collection, it was our bringing industry-leading technologies into our running collection. Therefore, we decided to use cutting-edge midsole materials such as Peba-based midsole foams for Astatine and Argon. This combined with advanced upper materials and innovative midsole geometries we created a new generation of running shoes providing outstanding energy return and allowing effortless performance.

Your Sports Performance design and development team have stated that they want to give the best possible experience to all athletes, from beginners to the more serious. What are the secrets to achieving such an ambitious goal?

The most important ingredient to achieve such an ambitious goal is drive. Besides having a talented team working together seamlessly, extensive insights from consumers and athletes, access to advanced technology, personal drive, and passion for running from every team member at FILA are key to our success. The combination of everything mentioned above results in products that cover the needs of every runner.

The running scene is increasingly populated and related to urban communities. What does it mean for you to involve, for example, a crew from Rome in the recent event that took place in the Eternal City?

Collaborating with the Runners of Rome crew symbolizes FILA’s commitment to intertwining our brand with the pulse of local running communities. As newcomers or rather as a come-back brand we know that it’s extremely important for us to be humble to the fact that our products are new to people so we want to start our journey with the passionate local community to gain insights directly from the urban running scene and to craft products and initiatives that resonate at a grassroots level. It’s a manifestation of our dedication to celebrating and nurturing the diverse and vibrant tapestry of running cultures that populate cities around the world.

What future steps are you envisioning and what are the goals you want to achieve? Will the FILA running universe connect with new professional athletes or will it continue to focus on crews and collective celebration?

FILA’s future in the running universe is focused on continual innovation and fostering communal running passions. When we are ready we plan to collaborate with professional athletes to elevate performance standards while maintaining our emphasis on community engagement and collective celebration. Our goal is to create a harmonious ecosystem where elite athleticism and communal passion coexist, driving inclusive growth, and propagating our commitment to every runner’s journey.